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Master of Science (M.S.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
environmental concern, energy harvesting, exercise, fruit and vegetable intake, health concern, adults
BACKGROUND: Recent epidemiological data indicate that one-third of the U.S. adult population is obese. As a result, healthcare professionals and policy makers are looking to identify creative methods to address this critical health concern. One way that may show promise to promote positive health changes is to convert mechanical energy produced through exercise into stored electricity via energy harvesting (EH) exercise. Previous research has linked pro-environmental attitudes with increased participation in sustainable behaviors. Other research has examined associations between consumption of fruits and vegetables and exercise participation. However, little research examines the association between exercise behavior and environmental concern. And more specifically, EH exercise. OBJECTIVE: To identify if EH exercise can act as a motivating factor to increase exercise participation. METHODS: Phase 1: Qualitative data were collected through a series of one-hour focus groups with ENERGIA Studio members who participate in EH exercise. Four focus groups were completed with 1-5 participants per group (n=12). Topics examined included: 1) perceived effect of EH exercise on the environment and its ability to act as a motivating factor to increase exercise participation; 2) participation in sustainable behaviors and attitudes toward energy conservation and environmental concerns; and 3) perceived benefits of and barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption and exercise participation. Data were used to inform a survey to examine the relationship between how environmental concern influences exercise and dietary practices. Phase 2: Fifteen participants from UMass Permaculture who had irregular exercise participation and pro-environmental beliefs completed an online survey. RESULTS: Significant results were found for associations between: environmental concern and sustainable and organic fruit and vegetable purchasing (p=0.008; p=0.048) among non-exercisers; health concern and organic purchasing (p=0.015) among exercisers; and sustainable practices and fruit and vegetable intake (X2 (1, 12) = 5.285, p=0.022) among non-exercisers. No significant results were found between environmental concern and EH exercise self-efficacy or exercise and fruit and vegetable intake. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides additional research examining how environmental concern may affect dietary and exercise habits. Using the threat of the environment may serve as a potential motivator to increase EH exercise participation and fruit and vegetable intake.
Elena T. Carbone